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Messages - Nicole@CSC

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Writers' Cafe / Re: 123rf Attribution for Book Covers
« on: Yesterday at 12:30:52 PM »
Maybe those are their "rules", but editorial usage normally indicates a non-commercial (i.e. news and information) usage.
That usage also does not need a model or location release.
Since editorial usage is usually paid at a lower rate the deal is sweetened by including a photo credit.
It has been this way since before the internet was invented.

Of course, it's always possible the phone person was mistaken, and by "books" they actually mean inclusion of photos inside books (which will fall under editorial usage) rather than covers of books (using a non-editorial only image) and paying the price for commercial usage.

This. Exactly, this. I've worked in the publishing industry for some time now. Fiction books are not editorial use. They are commercial. 

To be fair though, 123RF has always had some of the worst license agreements in the industry. They are one of the few I would never use for stock images. Their agreements have improved since the beginning of the Indie book boom (still terrible), but they are usually the last to adopt changes that positively effect book covers.

I would look for those images you've already used and source them from another company. Most photographers use more than one stock site to sell their stock photos.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Cover model stock photo search tips please!
« on: November 17, 2017, 02:27:08 PM »
Finding the right images on stock sites take up half of my time when creating good covers. It takes some dedication.

One trick is, you don't look for the perfect photo. You look for the photo/photos that can be made perfect.

Body positioning and facial expressions are two things that are best left alone, ie not manipulated later. Sometimes I add clothes to that list, depends on how specific the clothing request is. Hair, skin color, what a person's holding, all of those are minor details that can be easily manipulated later. I never toss out great photos based on those details. That rough guideline opens up a lot more photos to work with.

Second, I use whichever stock site is most likely to have the style of image I'm looking for. They can vary quite a bit in this area. I have a small list of stock sites that I will use/will not use based on their license agreements and from there have worked with each of them enough to know what kind of photos they learn towards. For example, period images was mentioned above. It's expensive and worth it if you need a more unique, historical romance photo. They have other things, but really hold their own if you need those old style clothes.

Third, not all stock sites' search engines are created equal. Often I will search for an image on Shutterstock and purchase it later on Depositphotos. Depositphotos is not guaranteed to have all the same photos as Shutterstock, but there is a lot of overlap on those two, with Depositphotos being the more money-conscious choice.

Fourth, the find similar images option is your friend. Lots of dead ends and lots of gems are found this way. You just have to be willing to keep clicking next page.

I suggest either hiring a good image manipulator to make a passable photo perfect, or be a bit more flexible on your cover. Custom photo shoots are always an option, but you're still going to have to comb through models and costumes to fit your needs, not to mention the cost is very high. For the most part, your cover just has to be true to genre and draw potential readers in.

Good luck!

Hang in there, Christina. <3 I know these things can really drain a person. Just remember, you're doing the right thing and standing for a lot of people who couldn't do it themselves.

Just wanted to bring the donation link to the forefront, so those who want easy access to it don't have to hunt it down:

Please correct me if this isn't the most current link.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Yea or Nay for a first book cover?
« on: November 04, 2017, 04:33:29 PM »
My deadlines are self imposed.  How pricey are the illustrated ones?

It really depends on the designer you go with and what kind of illustration you have done (how complex/how many unique ships/characters). My best estimate is on average you will spend about 4 times as much for a custom illustration than you will a custom photomanipulation. It will be harder to find a good illustrated premade, but stellar premade photomanips will cost you far less and buy you time if you want to keep those self imposed deadlines.

A really rough estimate is $600 on the low side for custom illustration on up to the thousands. It's not a service I provide (I enjoy cozy mystery vectors, but not full blown illustration work), but there are some excellent artists on K-boards that do. Several that come highly recommended.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Yea or Nay for a first book cover?
« on: November 04, 2017, 03:40:40 PM »
Way too late in the fall to get someone most likely without paying through the nose.  Probably need a January or later release.

Not necessarily. I, like most cover designers, do get the occasional cancellation. People run out of money and have to postpone, real life happens and they have to rebook a later date, ect. There's always a chance you could grab one of those spots with a designer.

Honestly, you're probably best off going with a nice premade if you're going up against deadlines. Get something that is genre specific and looks professional. That is the most important part. Booking someone for a custom illustration would be ideal, but that takes more money and more time. The right premade could get you through, and there are some really budget friendly ones out there that are going to do you a lot more favors than your current one.

Good luck!   

Writers' Cafe / Re: The BEST cover artist?
« on: November 01, 2017, 10:56:12 AM »
It's not always the designer's choice what goes on the cover. If the client asks for pretty people, the designer is going to give them pretty people.

This. So much this. I try to point my clients in a direction that will enable their book to sell. But that's not every author's main goal. I have to respect that it might be more important to them to have the "right" cover from their mind and not necessarily the best marketing cover.

Unfortunately, this can lead to a few covers that my clients are thrilled with, but I wouldn't say is my proudest work. But at least they're happy, and I've provided the service they wanted. At the end of the day, that's what really matters.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Westerns
« on: August 29, 2017, 02:50:43 PM »
Western readers are indeed very loyal. I was always under the impression that's what made it such a tough genre to break in to. They like their Louis L'Amour and nothing more.

Would love to hear more from local K-board authors who have given real westerns a solid go. I say real westerns as western romances are really a different beast that doesn't seem to follow the same rules or have many overlapping readers.

When I had more of a focus on producing western covers/premades, I was in touch with quite a few western authors. Most of them switched to a different genre right away or quit altogether.

It's always a guess why those things happen, but I always wondered if it had more to do with the genre than the authors. Either way, I found I could sell any other genre cover 10x faster - for what that's worth.

Would be amazing if westerns made a major comeback. I'm with Jim, and was totally expecting it after some of the latest movie releases.

Writers' Cafe / Re: What do Authors want from Book Cover designers
« on: July 12, 2017, 03:54:10 PM »
I like the jpg/png idea. I don't really need or want the PSD files, but not knowing what to ask for and the designer not offering a practical solution to the licensing problem is hardly my fault. They are the professionals, after all. Or claim to be.

I have never used a cover designer who wasn't highly recommended by others, either here on KBoards or in other author forums. How, then, am I supposed to intuit that they aren't professional or reliable? Plenty of people who have been reliable for years suddenly become unreliable, so basing my professional relationship on that kind of trust would be folly. I trust my formatter, but I end up with the files, too.

As to paying what the designer is worth, I have always paid whatever a designer (who has been pre-identified to be in my price range) has asked, and if the person wants more for more work, I'm willing to pay that, too. Money has nothing to do with the issue of not having access to cover art elements after a professional relationship has ended. For me, money has never been the issue that ended such a relationship, either.

As much as I hate to say this, there are some price points that are well known for disappearing. That's a risk you take when you go to cheaper designers. Some hang in there for a year, maybe two, but that's about how long it takes for them to get flooded with clients, burned out and realize they aren't even making minimum wage.

Sometimes it's totally worth it - you need a custom stand alone on a major budget.
Sometimes it's not - you need a 3+book series with paperback and promo material that you can add on to later.

You'll have the safest bet working with a professional who's been able to stay in business for awhile - quite a few years even, and know the risks when you go with the cheaper guys.

But don't ask them to break their license agreements to compensate, and don't go with the designers who are willing to do this. If not having your PSD files to alter later makes you nervous, imagine having all of your covers/ads pulled by a legal DMCA takedown notice when those breached licenses get revoked. Oh, and all of those buddies who recommended the artist get theirs taken down too. Not good. THAT should concern you.

Go with someone who cares about you and the future of your covers - because your business success is intertwined. Someone who isn't willing to put you or other clients at risk even if it means the frustration of having to turn down a request. Cover designers are in customer service, and it breaks our heart when we can't do something you want us to. So ask for the clean JPG and PNG text if you must, but don't ask for the PSD files.  :)

Writers' Cafe / Re: What do Authors want from Book Cover designers
« on: July 12, 2017, 12:47:32 PM »
And that's perfectly fine, but then I can't / won't use them.  I'd be happy to register the fonts and stock in my name to avoid that issue. But short of getting a PSD file I can modify at a later date, I can't justify the cost of a designer. Now, that said, I took the time to learn photoshop so I can get by. I understand why most folks have to just take what the designer is willing to give them. 

So to OP's post in terms of what I want, that's big one :)

The scary part about this is, so many authors don't realize the risk they are asking cover designers to take when they want the PSD files. Just having the author "register" the font and images does not make this practice legal. It is a MAJOR breech of licensing contract.

If this illegal practice is found out, not only will the cover made for you become unusable, the designer faces fines and all of the prior work used with that company becomes nil and void, ie unusable. So you're asking them to risk themselves, all of their prior clients and you, just for the convenience of not going back to them for future work and adjustments.

I get that a lot of cover artists disappear. So many of them pop up at cheap rates and great designs. They get overwhelmed and can't make a livable wage. Then they understandably quit. If you take the time to find a reliable designer that has been around for years, pay them what they are worth, then you don't have to deal with them disappearing.

**It is worth noting that a flattened JPG and rasterized text is the only legal way to send PSD files in this case. And at that point you could just send the JPG and PNG file over instead. It's basically same thing and smaller files to email.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Pre-mades and Custom Designs by Jacqueline Sweet
« on: July 06, 2017, 11:32:56 AM »
Beautiful typography!

Buying stock images makes these things easier. Otherwise, you need to learn all the legalities of being a photographer as well.

You absolutely should get a property release if you are using for commercial purposes.

If it's a small enough town, I doubt you'll need it, but quite a few public places can require a photography permit to shoot at. Parks and beaches are among the most common. This depends on your city.

Another thing to consider, do you have the professional gear to capture your image at a high enough resolution to make it usable on a cover? This isn't something very many people think about until they can't figure out why their work looks pixelated and grainy.

Definitely do the work and get your releases signed. Then you'll have nothing to worry about down the road. It will keep you legal, and possibly grow your community relations in a positive direction. Good luck!

I can't help it; I'm a die-hard Photoshop fan.

I'll be using CS6 for as long as I can, or at least until it becomes irrelevant in the design world (it's getting close, but I think I have a couple more years). I hate the idea of subscription base, so I'm in no hurry to switch to something that will cost me more in the long run, and I'll never truly own.

I also frequently use Adobe Illustrator, but truth be known, I hate it. I do what I have to in there and import to Photoshop as soon as I can, lol.

I've tried GIMP and several of the others mentioned here. They are decent alternatives if your work doesn't justify the cost of an Adobe program and you haven't already sunk years into the learning curve that is PS. As impressive as GIMP is though, it will always be a really watered down, outdated version of Photoshop. I wanted it to be so much more, but it just wasn't for me.

A good designer can get the job done with just about any program. Although I wouldn't recommend it, I've seen some impressive work straight out of Power Point. All I could think of was what could this person accomplish with a real program.  :o

I'm not a fan of making things any harder on myself than I have to.  ;)

Hi and welcome back!

I have a decent variety of the less steamy romance covers. Feel free to check out my offerings at I know Melody usually has a bunch of great romance premades as well. But really, we have a wonderful collection of cover artists here on the boards. Don't forget the yellow pages up top as well.

Good luck! And I hope the agent comes through for you if that's what you're interested in. :-)

Writers' Cafe / Re: About Writing Christian Fiction
« on: May 23, 2017, 04:00:28 PM »
... I'm not sure if my protagonist will keep the faith, and the fact that God will be reduced to being just one of many deities that are actually eldritch entities.

This is a main reason I would not call your book Christian fiction. These concepts would not be encouraging to a Christian reader.

By picking the Christian fiction category, you would be saying your target audience are Christians looking for good fiction that reaffirms their faith - or something close to that mark. If your hero loses his faith or you reduce a reader's God down to just one of many, you're gonna have a hard time in that category.

As with many things in self-publishing, the entry rules to Christian fiction are not as strict as they were 10-15 years ago. It used to be expected that you were not only a Christian to write it, but an active and well received one.

You could probably get away with writing true Christian fiction as a non-believer now, but I doubt it would be an easy feat. There's a reason many romance readers steer clear of romance openly wrote by men ... it can be so obviously from the male point of view and unappealing to the female audience. I imagine the challenge of writing Christian fiction as a non-believer is much the same. Not impossible, but rarely done well.

I'm really sorry you didn't feel well received with your question. Thank you for asking it, as I'm sure there are others wondering the same thing. I really hope it doesn't spoil your desire to feel free to ask again.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Copyright question
« on: May 19, 2017, 08:19:36 AM »
The only way the copyright does not belong to the photographer is if they were clearly hired in a work for hire situation. For example, military photographers do not own the work they produce while on the job. But for a normal civilian situation this would need to be clearly stated in their contract.

The model does not own any photos taken of them. If it's a public place with little to no expectation of privacy, the photographer doesn't even have to get a model release. Almost all do if the work will be for commercial purposes though, because it avoids any potential issues and gray areas. Most consumers want model releases for less headaches, so photographers get them.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Copyright question
« on: May 18, 2017, 09:39:44 PM »
That's a big, fat yes. In some situations you can get away with not having a model release, but in pretty much every situation you need a license from the photographer (who actually owns the original copyright to the photo) before using an image.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« on: May 18, 2017, 02:34:19 PM »
Your idea to have some other major authority overthrown is a good one. I suppose then my question would be does naming my "creator" something other than God or creator also cause it's own conflict?

The only theme I noticed when browsing best selling author names in fantasy is about half of them use a middle initial, many of them are somewhat plain names while others seem way out there in made up land to me! (No offense I'm just not that talented wth names)

I can't promise you a right answer on this, but I can give you my answer.  :)

I, personally, am comfortable with books that give God another name IF He still functions as the God I know and acts the same. My reasoning for this is I'm viewing Him from the book's character's point of view. Just as another language might have another name for something. BUT if He doesn't function the same or acts in ways that are not in accordance to the Bible, I will assume this being is clearly not my Creator and probably skip a read that I feel shows God in a poor light.

TL;DR - I don't think using a different name for God would be an issue with a large percentage of Christian readers as long as you keep Him true to character.

This might be more helpful if I let you know I find myself a bit on the stricter side of what the "average" Christian permits.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« on: May 18, 2017, 12:26:02 PM »
This is a really tough question. One I've wondered myself, lately. There are a lot of fantasy themes that don't mesh well with the Christian faith. But, it can be done, as C.S. Lewis and many other proved. I think if you study their works, you'll see some themes to help you navigate these rough waters.

One example I can think of is The Chronicles of Narnia. It's a tough write where the natural Earth and Earth rules as we know them are not violated. We're given an alternate land, also made by our Creator for a purpose, where magic is mostly given straight from the Creator in an item or originally designed by Him that way. Witches aren't the good guys and sorcerers aren't either. 

Your story brief sounded on point until the characters were able to overthrow the creator. I see this as a trouble spot for the Christian view. If you believe there is one almighty Creator, then you don't believe His creation can overthrow Him, thus putting God in the light of not all powerful.

You won't lose all of your Christian audience on that, but I can assure you, you will lose quite a few.

If you could capitalize on your current pen name's following without ostracizing a good portion of them, that would be ideal. Perhaps you could have your creator assign a powerful being to their care where they overthrow him instead. And if not, I like the Brandt name, but I'd look into your fantasy genre and see what style of names abound. Pen names can also be a major genre que.

Good luck!!

Thank you for the hugs.   :) I look on these things as learning experiences. Sometimes the things that DON'T work out are more informative than the things that DO. It's all useful data. And yeah, trying to find new things that work and taking advantage before they get over-exploited is difficult.

I love reading the real life data stories. It takes a lot of courage to share with all of us, but, man, is it soooo helpful to the community! I have to agree that all info is useful info.  :)

I know I already told you this, but I still LOVE your new covers. Absolutely gorgeous job. Very up-to-date, legible with clear genre ques. Excellent score there.

One thing that is hard to measure with new covers, since you've replaced your old ones, you have no way of knowing at what point those old covers would have had major diminishing returns or started to look dated. Having current, trend-topping covers could already be keeping you from losing ground.

Sometimes just continuing your current level of success is a win. There are definitely others out there desperately trying to reach what you have. <3

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fantasy Covers, Comments please
« on: May 12, 2017, 11:10:24 AM »
Beautiful, Curt, just beautiful!

Writers' Cafe / Re: When Hiring a cover designer:
« on: April 21, 2017, 12:59:13 PM »
... I'm also looking for reputation, in that I'm going to ask around if anyone has used that artist before and how timely they are / whether they flake out and disappear for stretches at a time, that sort of thing.

It still blows my mind that flaking out like that even happens and is frequently brought up as common. HOW is that an option to someone running a business?!?

Writers' Cafe / Re: Heat levels in Romance?
« on: April 20, 2017, 09:31:43 AM »
I'm glad someone is mentioning the need for this. Just yesterday I was evaluating some of the top selling romances. It's clear to me that a reader has almost no idea what to expect in steam level until you buy. That middle ground has definitely disappeared quick. So much erom in the romance section and now I suspect the clean has it's own catagory as a result. But where's the old "normal" stuff. You know, where they finally get together for the first time 3/4 the way through the book. Used to be a standard. Now it's a jungle lol. Main reason I've walked away from the romance genre for awhile now. I like knowing what I'm getting, and there are so many other great books out there I don't have to research first.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Attn Cover Designers: Cover page of my new Novel
« on: April 08, 2017, 01:42:53 AM »
Hi Ravie!

You've definitely came to the right place. :-) The Writer's Cafe has a plethora of talented artists. Don't forget to check out the yellow pages up top, if you don't find a perfect match in this thread.

Good luck! New covers are always an exciting venture.

Hi everyone!

I've decided to do away with my strictly western premade category and fill it with premade series options instead. I still have a few more I'm close to finished with, but hopefully, you'll be able to find what you like. :-)

Feel free to stop on by and check out my new covers I'm adding to all the time.

Oh, and for those of you asking, yes, I can turn a stand alone premade into a series for you as well. I can also add more covers to the current series options I have on hand.

Happy writing and enjoy the new week!


Writers' Cafe / Re: Quietest Ergonomic Keyboard
« on: April 03, 2017, 02:29:59 PM »
I run both a sculpt (for laptop) and MS Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 (for desktop).

I've tried sooo many keyboards that it's not even funny. Started having massive wrist issues at a young age from screen time and a non-ergo correct keyboard. I was still using great keyboards - logitech and $100+, but they just didn't cut it for me.

The MS Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 is a relatively cheap board, but I just can't replace it. I haven't had wrist pain in years now and can fly through my typing. In fairness, though, I do have to say there is a bit of a learning curve. But well worth it. You'll experience the same with any split or ergo board.

The sculpt board is my backup. I love that one too, especially since it's wireless, but I require an attached, build-in number pad for a lot of my daily work. That makes the 4k my first choice.

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